Last year was Tomas Garcia’s first year as Juarez-Lincoln High School’s (JLHS) head football coach. Garcia, who inherited a 2-8 Huskies’ team against 4A competition, not only faced the challenge of turning a losing program into a winner but as a result of the University Interscholastic League’s (UIL) most recent realignment, he would have to do so in his team’s first year in District 30-5A.
With a 5-5 record the Huskies certainly took a major step in the right direction under Garcia’s leadership. As much improvement as JLHS showed in just one year however, the Huskies were left on the outside looking in when it came to the state playoffs.
“We actually had two different ways that we could get into the playoffs last year,” explained Garcia. “We either had to beat Donna or Economedes had to beat Palmview for us to get in. While we were up at the half against Donna it just didn’t work out. Even so, the feeling we had at the end of that game is what’s motivating us to get into the playoffs this year.”
With home wins against Rio Hondo, Edinburg Vela, Edinburg High and both of JLHS’s sister schools, La Joya High and Palmview, last year the Huskies looked like world champs each and every time they played the friendly confines of La Joya Stadium. When it came to playing on the road however, Garcia’s squad just couldn’t find a way to put one in the win column.
“We ended up going 5-5 last year,” said Garcia. “We were 5-0 at home and 0-5 on the road. Wining on the road is something that we definitely need to work on this year.”
With six starters returning on offense and five on defense, JLHS certainly has a core of experienced players to build around going into the 2013 season.
“Our backfield is coming back with Ramiro Garza at quarterback and Pedro Reyes and Martin Diaz at running back,” shared Garcia. “Our three other returning starters on offense are all linemen. They include three year starting center Joe Garza as well as our right and left guards Frank Contreras and Eric Cleto.”
“We’ve told them (Garza, Contreras and Cleto) already that we’re going to go as far as they take us,” added Garcia. “The game is won in the trenches and we’re expecting them to lead us on the offensive side of the ball.”
While not all of the offensive weapons Garcia will have in his arsenal this season have varsity experience, several of last year’s JV players will provide the Huskies with quality depth at the skill positions.
“We have Victor Bocanegra, who played running back on the junior varsity team as a sophomore last year,” explained Garcia. “He could’ve played varsity but I decided to keep him on the JV team after he returned from an injury. We also have Pedro Martin and Jose Rodriguez who are both moving up to the varsity level this year.”
As for what JLHS’s offensive gameplan is going to look like, that will be affected by the fact that the Huskies lost their four starting receivers to graduation. As a result Garcia plans on running the ball early on in the season but still mixing in some passing, most likely on a 60/40 run to pass ratio.
If the Huskies are going to break into the playoffs for the first time in school history, Garcia will need his returning defensive starters to lead the way.
“On defense we have Pasqual Rendon and Aldo Toscano, our defensive ends, and Luis Luna and Vicente Garcia, our defensive tackles, as returning starters. They’re going to be the strength of our defense,” said Garcia.
In the middle we have Giovanni Vasquez at outside linebacker returning,” added Garcia. “Now Giovanni played defensive line but we moved him to linebacker. The other two returning starters on defense are our two strong safeties Jesus Garcia and Erick Gomez.”
Even with their non-district schedule kicking off next week, Garcia is hoping to have additional players come out for Huskies football; especially freshmen.
“I invite everyone to come out and try out for football,” shared Garcia. “Right now we have approximately 70 kids registered for freshman soccer and over 40 registered for freshman basketball. With only 25 or so registered for football right now I’m going to talk to them to try to recruit them into our football program.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.